Monday, December 29, 2008

You can never let them win...

Milgram Revisited - Decades Later, Still Asking, Would I Pull That Switch? - The linked story tell us people haven't changed. Just as they did in the early sixties, psychologists can still pluck someone from off the street and persuade them to administer lethal doses of electric shock to experimental subjects who are obviously in agony. Two keys to turning John Doe into Torquemada: 1) a strong authority figure - Hitler for example, or just a guy in a white lab coat who says he's running an experiment; 2) up the torture ante gradually - almost no one will flip the switch on a 190 volt shock, unless they start at ten volts and work their way up.

Does this explain Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, extraordinary rendition? Is all of major league baseball a twisted experiment, existing solely for the purpose of determining how much torture the Chicago Cubs are willing to inflict upon their obviously suffering fans? First you finish last, then 500, then make the playoffs - but you can never win, even when the fans, I mean subjects, are writhing in agony in the aisles of Wrigley.

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